All about the sheep in the orchard
Between May and December, the orchard is grazed by three rare breeds - the Greyface Dartmoor, Devon and Cornwall Longwools and the White Faced Dartmoor. As Parke's Apple day is held in the orchard, the sheep have temporarily been moved to alternative grazing returning at the end of September.
Inspired by her great great grandmother, Paula Steer started farming these rare breeds with her son, Lewis.
The Greyface Dartmoor
At the height of the woollen industry Greyface Dartmoor's were a common sight in the valleys of Dartmoor as farmers could get a good price for the wool from this breed of sheep. They produce beautiful, shaggy sheepskins with an open curl.
The Devon and Cornwall Longwool
This breed has existed for over 100 years, but prior to 1977 as two different types; the large South Devon and the smaller combined North Devon and Cornish strain. There are now under 1000 registered breeding ewes in the UK.
This docile breed produces large lambs. They have a superb long and heavy fleece, producing luxurious sheepskins.
The White Faced Dartmoor
This is Dartmoor's most ancient breed of sheep, now locally known for its 'angel' meat as it has an outstanding flavour. This breed is built to survive Dartmoor's harsh weather and the fleece has a far tighter curl able to repel driving rain.
Paula and Lewis promote and protect these 'at risk' breeds of sheep by producing
- balls of aran wool in beautiful colours
- knitted/crocheted sheep and brooches
- complete fleeces which are tanned locally.
The magnificent fleeces and other products are all available to buy at the National Trust gallery at Widecombe.